The usually serene environment at Magodo, a high brow Lagos surburb, was broken recently, when hordes of visitors from the south west zone of the country, converged there for experience sharing . They came in all sorts of vehicles, from official ones to exotic ones. They came in all ages and physique. They came for the three day inaugural summit of Heads of Service in the South-West Geo-Political zone, held at the Lagos State Public Service Staff Development Centre, ( PSSDC), Magodo, Lagos. It was an unusual gathering of public servants and residents of Magodo, would for long remember the week their privacy was intruded by public servants, all in the name of progress for the south west region.
Grand Host of the Summit, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), while declaring the historic event open, expressed the commitment of his administration to reposition the state’s public service, as one of the best in the world. He said the repositioning was necessary in view of the relevance of the civil service , as a repository of knowledge for governance and barometer of social and physical development in any society.
Fashola told the large gathering , that the Lagos State Government has been able to take on challenges facing the state’s public service , by instituting public service reforms, with the support of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and other international development agencies.
He described the summit as apt, as it would afford participants the opportunity to share experiences with each other, for even development of the region. Reflecting on the shared evolution of states in the geo political zone, Governor Fashola noted that the public service of the defunct Western Region , was the pace setter for the federation in the First Republic . “ this summit of Heads of Service of the southwest zone, is the first of its kind and is borne out of a nostalgic feeling of a glorious past, when the western region and its civil service was the pace setter for the rest of the federation”.
In his welcome address, the Chief Host and Head of Service, Lagos State, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, said the summit was necessary for creating a congenial experience sharing, especially on reforms, instrumental to efficient and effective service delivery . He urged his colleagues to rekindle the sort of professionalism that distinguished the public civil service of the old Western Region, from others.
Director General, Office of Transformation, Lagos State, Mr Toba Otusanya, said a common leadership vision and mission is required for the development of the civil service in the South-West geo-political zone of the country. Delivering a paper at the Summit, he attributed the massive development and municipal infrastructural renewal witnessed in the South West between 1950 and 1983 , to the mutual leadership goal of the then political parties that existed in the region at the time.
He submitted that the time was ripe for the zone to return to its agriculture driven economy , as well as its education policy that made the region the benchmark and model in Nigeria and the West African sub-region. The Director General highlighted developmental achievements of Lagos State to include 70 percent implementation of annual budgets and a paradigm shift from expenditure driven budgeting to activity based budgeting which, according to him, had helped fast track the implementation rate of the budget.
The three day summit, the first of its kind, was aimed at bringing all Heads of Service from the South West geo-political zone together, to forge a common goal to drive the public service of states within the region, to an enviable height, through sharing and collaboration for more efficient service delivery.